To read an Introduction about the project and portrait series, Click Here
To see behind the scenes, Click Here.
1. What’s your name, your friend’s name, how old are you both, and where were you both from when you met/had the long distance period?
My name is Ryan Charaba, my friend’s name is Jason Combs. I am 40 and he is 35. I live in Honolulu and he lives in Denver. We met 11 years ago.
My name is Coral~! I’m 24, and I’ve lived in Texas since I was a kid. My gorgeous and lovely friend is Kylie, who is 23 if I’m not mistaken, and lives in California.
My name is Kylie! I’m 23, and have been a proud California girl since the wee age of 2. My total
sweetheart of a friend is Coral! She’s 24, and lives in Texas.
My name is Andrew Huang. I’m 22. When we met, I was in Houston, Texas, but since then I have moved to northern New Jersey. My friend’s name is Lexie Machado, Alexa if I’m feeling formal. She’s 24(?). She is from San Diego, California.
Lexie Machado, Andrew Huang, he’s 22 I’m 24, he’s from New Jersey but was going to Rice in Texas when we met. I was in San Diego, California. There was a song that was popular at the time called Saturday Sun about meeting someone on the West Coast. I used to listen to that while messaging him. Took me a full month before I realized I was the one on the West Coast X’D #geographyfail
My name is Kylee, I am 26. My bestie is Jen and she is 25, turning 26 this year. I am from Niagara Falls and Jen is originally from England but I’m pretty sure she actually grew up in Pickering. We have been long distance friends for about 6 years, but friends for about a year before.
My name: Melissa Wilkerson, 28 years old, from Portland, OR
Her name: Charis Weible, 29 years old, from Dayton, OH
I’m Chelsea and my best friend is Carrie! I’m 22 and from Detroit, Michigan and she’s 21 and currently living in Grand Rapids, Michigan! It’s about a three hour drive, so not super hardcore long distance but enough where we’re not together as much as we’re used to.
My name is Carrie McClure, my friends name is Chelsea Grobelny. I am 21 and she is 22! We met at CMU, I currently live in Grand Rapids and she lives in Detroit. The farthest we have been from each other was last summer when I was in Washington D.C all summer and she was in Alaska! (Talk about long distance!)
My name is Brooke Ardon and today I will be writing about my now husband Drake Ardon. I am 21 and he is 23. We were long distance for a year when Drake went to college in Ventura, Ca and I stayed in Oceanside, Ca.
My name is David. Yes that David. My friend is Jennifer. I would have been approximately 24 to 25 upon first meeting Jennifer. Jennifer would have been approximately 16. We were both living in PA at them time. I am originally from NJ but had been living in PA for a couple years and Jennifer to my knowledge was always from PA at the time of our meeting.
Mine: Divyansh Khattak
Friend's name: Kaian Leong: Born in Portugal, Brought up in Munich, Germany, and has Chinese roots. Speaks Cantonese, Mandarin, German and English fluently. Me on the other hand, consider languages other than English to be alien languages. I am currently 23, and she is 28 years old.
2. What were your thoughts on long distance friendships before meeting this person? Did they change those thoughts?
My thoughts on long distance relationships usually pertained to the romantic kind. I am not sure this changes those thoughts specifically. Him and I are just good friends and share a lot of the same interests which is important.
When I met Kylie, I think I was the type of person who made a lot of acquaintances online but never any friends. I was into anime and did lots of storytelling RPs (roleplays) with people I would meet, but it never went past trading stories. Of course, I’d grown up in a very conservative household and my parents were pretty strict as far as what I was allowed to do online, so I was also still pretty new to the whole thing and very wary. Still, I’d heard stories of people who met some of their dearest companions online, and while I was a cautious person I was also open-minded and curious. If I had to say, meeting and becoming friends with Kylie did change my thinking of online friendships. It opened up a huge new part of my life, and I’ll never not be thankful for that.
Before meeting Coral, I didn’t have a good view on long distance or online friendships at all. When I was really young, back in elementary school, my brother had a horrible experience with someone he had met online, and seeing how it affected him terrified me, and I didn’t understand what was going on. I was only 8 at the time, around 2004, so the internet was still relatively new. Seeing him that way made me believe that meeting or talking to people online was dangerous. So since then I was very cautious and wary of forming friendships online, or talking to people for too long unless the were my friends from school on AIM. I obviously met Coral a long while after that, so by then I knew more about the world and about the internet, so I wasn’t as afraid of the idea as I had been in the years prior. I knew how to keep myself safe, and I wasn’t afraid to protect myself if things ever went wrong. But my experience of meeting Coral and becoming friends with her changed how I viewed online connections and friendships. It gave me more confidence, and gave me some relief about people online as a whole. I don’t regret it in the least. 😊
I’d primarily kept in touch with people who shared common interest in niche hobbies of mine. I’d never had a long-distance friendship with someone outside of these hobbies, that I had not met and known in real life previously (such as old friends from high school). So, meeting Lexie taught me I could form a new long-distance friendship with someone, who is not some middle-aged dude who likes the same hobbies as me but is actually closer in age to me and like someone I’d be likely to interact with in real life.
This is going to sound terrible but I always thought online relationships were for PC gamers who identified as antisocial haha I had a very small Facebook account with around 300 people, all of whom I had met in person. He was my first internet friend I became close to without ever meeting. He changed my mind for sure, I started being more open to online friendships after we connected, and now I have quite a lot of wonderful people in my life that I wouldn’t have met otherwise.
I honestly always wanted a long distance friend, I thought the idea of having someone in a different part of the world would be neat, I also liked the idea of having a pen pal. I think I change my mind about how I feel about the long distance friendship situation haha. Sometimes I think it’s great because I know she’s just a phone call away if I need her. Other times, it sucks because I’d give anything just to be able to hangout in person for a night, especially when there’s something serious going on with either one of us.
We met in the time where you were still supposed to be afraid of strangers on the internet, but I was young and dumb so I didn’t give a damn about that. I knew that people pretended to be other people, but from the very beginning I felt like there was no way that someone could fake this much information (which is wrong, but luckily she was who she said she was).
I originally thought long distance friendships were cool but not for me since communication gets hard through just the phone. She ended up changing that idea for me since we were so close before the long distance period kicked in and when we talk it’s like we’re still just going to go hangout later even though we’re not.
I thought that they were really difficult and hard to keep. As I got to know Chelsea it became apparent that we would be besties even if we lived on different coasts or sides of the world.
I always have felt that long distance relationships and friendships make the heart grow stronger but I never anticipated how much growth happens and challenges arise after you make that step.
I honestly had no thoughts about long distance friendships. I had come to PA originally for college so I was used to keeping in touch with friends over a distance. I had no issues with the process but it also didn’t garner much of my thoughts either. The only standout thought about long distance friendships for me was an occasional slight ‘dread’ when I would venture back home and have to deal with everyone wanting to see me in such a short limited time. Then having to ‘hear’ from everyone I didn’t get to see in person bc they may have felt slighted. That whole situation made me enjoy the keeping the touch part more than the actual having to visit. Visits home would sometimes make me feel more like a politician ‘making sure i made the rounds and shook everyone’s hands.’ At this time, social media had not become a thing yet so most it wasn’t like you could keep up on everything going on unless you actually sat down and emailed or phone called another person.
I was really neutral on long-distance friendships. I kept in touch with some of my high school friends after moving to college, however it was always New Place, New Friends for me. Meeting Kaian didn’t totally change my thoughts on a general level, I still can’t maintain long-distance friendships with a lot of people. However, I can do that with some specific people, including Kaian.
3. Preferred form of communication?
We only talk via voice messaging or phone call. No texting. If it is important enough to say then we use our actual voice. This has been a game changer in our relationship.
When we first met we kept in touch mostly through DMs over Quotev, but nowadays we talk over DMs on Tumblr. I’m still nervous about Skype and such, because I’m an awful talker! I stutter a lot and often lose my train of thought, so conversing with me face-to-face sucks.
I would say it would be through DMs on whatever social media we happen to be on. It’s primarily Tumblr nowadays, but it used to be Quotev all those years ago. I’m still a bit nervous about the idea of Skype or of talking over a phone call; I’ve always had anxieties about talking on the phone since I was little. But I’m hoping that one day we’ll be able to reach that point where we’re both relatively comfortable with either of those as well~
Facebook messenger, occasionally Facebook voice or video calls.
Text for sure. We’ve called too. And Skype once.
I think the obvious answer would be video chat, so we can see each other… But I don’t think I’d give our phone calls on the way home from work up for anything.
A forum site called Dragonmount.com, and MSN Messenger.
Phone calls are my favorite form of communication when we’re not together! We’re both pretty introverted but we can spend literally all day on the phone just chilling and living our lives together!
Usually Snapchat though we do make phone calls a lot that usually last anywhere from 5 minutes to 4 hours.
I preferred a phone call every night but he hated talking on the phone. Commonly, we would text when we could since there were many times he would be on set for film and be somewhere with no service for a week or longer and those weeks would be miserable. We also compromised and if he was tired, we texted goodnight and if I needed him, we would call.
Email. Short, simple, concise emails - sometimes. I enjoy a nice phone conversation but hate the awkwardness of when you run out of things to say and then are waiting to see if the conversation is over. Email you can get into as little or much detail as you like without the other
party forced to hear it all at one time - they can step away and take a break or return to to it hours or days later and still get the whole concept of your thoughts.
4. How and when did you meet? What drew you to them in the first place? Who initiated contact? Tell the story of how you met from your point of view.
“We met 11 years ago in the Navy. We had similar interests and began to hang out. We played games and mountain biked and for the most part our spouses got along.”
“I was a sophomore in high school, I believe (so.... gosh, almost 8 years ago!). I used to spend my lunch periods in the library, RPing anime stuff with random people online and blogging when the librarian wasn’t watching (lol, my little ring of anime nerds had found out how to get around the school’s parental block easy). One day I was bored out of my skull and posted on my Quotev that I wanted to RP someone new, and since I was watching Code Geass at the time I specifically mentioned the anime by name. Kylie was the one who contacted me first, asking if we could try going back and forth sometime. To be honest, I was so used to swapping stories with people who were just... bad storytellers, bad at grammar, so I wasn’t expecting much. But lo and behold, she knocked my expectations clear out of the water; I wound up being so impressed with how good of a writer she was that I kept in touch with her, and when I started getting into other anime and wanting to swap stories about it, I would reach out to her first.”
I met her while I was in high school, I think when I was a freshman (EDIT: I just checked; the date of my first message to her was January 7, 2013. I was a junior; it feels like I’ve known her for so much longer though!). I’m gonna show my nerd off here a bit as I was, and still kind of am, very into Japanese animation. I was also very into writing, so I was interested in writing something for the shows that I was a fan of. Yes: I wrote fanfiction, and that confession is now on the internet 😂 I also read some as well, and one of the ones I had read was written by her under the pen name Trinity. I loved her writing so much, so I went to her page to know more about her and see if she had any other stories. That’s when I saw that she had posted that she wanted to RP someone new. Now I wasn’t entirely sure what roleplaying was, but through my traversing of Quotev I had seen it before. I thought that perhaps I could learn to write better if I tried it, especially since she was so good writing in general. It just so happened that the show I was (at the time) so obsessed with was the one she was interested in roleplaying, so I sent her a message. I was worried she wouldn’t even consider it with me seeing as how we didn’t know each other, or since I was new to the whole thing, but she responded pretty quickly. I was so excited to see what it would lead to and what I would learn through the experience. I was lucky enough to keep in such good contact with her that whenever we both got into a new show or a new video game we started to share stories about them with each other.
I posted some comments in the Impact Theory League group on Facebook. One was about the destructive effects pornography has on modern society (exploitation of women, highjacked dopamine in men, chi depletion, amotivation). Another was about fallacies in common conceptions males have of the ‘friendzone’. I guess she was stricken by the emotional maturity reflected in such comments and liked and replied to both of them. Presumably that was how I got on her radar (though a mild case of yellow fever may have had a role as well). I forget the exact details of our first contact in January 2018, but Lexie was the one who initiated it. I indulged her since I found it fascinating that there was another person of similar age battling chronic illness. At that point in time I had yet to meet many. I also thought she was cute, so my curiosity was piqued. We had a brief conversation, but I guess we were both busy with other things so contact ended for a while. Then in late May 2018 she messaged me again, sharing some links in response to a post I’d made in that same Facebook group about dealing with imposter syndrome. This time we kept in touch and became closer.
I met him through the Impact Theory group on Facebook a year and a half ago. He was the only person around my age I saw interacting in there. I thought he was intelligent and cute (he doesn’t know this part omg) and I agreed with his views so I started commenting on his stuff haha. He started commenting on mine too. I forget who initiated but the defining moment was when I was in a really bad mindset (I had just been diagnosed with a chronic illness) and word vomitted in the group. He texted me making sure I was okay and we just chatted. Found out we both had chronic illness and he introduced me to the spoon theory. I got out of bed after talking to him, I still remember laying in my dimly lit room and feeling like maybe there was a little bit of hope. He was the first person I met that had health issues like mine. I honestly feel like he changed my life that day because it gave me the support I needed to start working with what I had been dealt instead of laying there crying and feeling hopeless. I’m eternally grateful for that gesture. After that I kept sending him stuff every few weeks until he was forced to start talking to me XD The rest is history!
We met on my 19th birthday April 11 2012. Jen crashed my birthday party and I’m sure we shared some sort of ‘drunk girls are all best friends’ moment haha. We didn’t hangout just the two of us for probably about a year – when I moved into the same building she lived in. My boyfriend at the time was gone for the night and I invited Jen over for some wine and life chats. We ended up getting wine drunk and very loudly singing Disney karaoke well into the late hours of the night! It was, for me anyway, the night that truly sparked our soul sister fire. That sounded a lot cooler in my head, but whatever it’s true.
Well, I joined a forum site for a series of books that I was absolutely obsessed with at the time (The Wheel of Time) and there was a social side to the forums. I actually started becoming friends with a different girl, and Charis was already friends with her. At first, Charis felt like I was trying to steal her friend from her, so she actually hated me, lol. But, this one friend wanted to have us get along, so we forced ourselves to be civil, and just lived life as this other friend’s two best friends. Over time I grew closer to Charis, while I drifted away and did not maintain contact with the other friend, but I am so thankful for her bringing us together.
We met in September of 2015! We were both in our first semester at Central Michigan University (I was going into photojournalism and she was going into teaching originally) and lived two rooms down from each other in our dorm. There was an ice cream social sometime during the first week for the residents of our floor and we immediately found each other and clicked. I want to say she initiated contact first but I’m not for sure. We basically just said hi to each other in the hall when we saw each other anytime after that and weren’t necessarily friends yet. Then my photography instructor gave me an assignment to pick a random person that I wanted to know better and spend a week documenting their life. His literal exact quote was “You will end up being best friends with this person for years after this class.” I asked Carrie and she was completely down and yeah! She’s stuck with me now!
We don’t really know when or how we met... We officially met in high school choir but we were circulating the same playing grounds since we were very little. He went to middle school with my then best friend, I saw him in a play, we went to the same church when we were little, both alter served... but officially, high school choir. I knew I liked him right away and something told me I could trust him. Didn’t help he is pretty handsome. He hated me when we first met believe it or not due to me being a freshman and him being a sophomore. One day while we were practicing a dance, he noticed I was wearing a Rock of Ages shirt and I guess that caught his attention and we started talking about musical theatre. I invited him to audition at my home theatre for Hairspray where we were paired as dance partners, became best friends and long story short, became a couple.
We met at work. I can’t recall the exact day or event. We were working at McDonald’s so people come and people go. So her first day(s) didn’t really strike me as anything special. We would have started talking as a way to pass time as all people do in jobs that very sporadic. After some time, we just became used to each other and comfortable in talking to and sharing more over time. While this may sound mundane and uninteresting, it actually shows how our friendship was able to build overtime creating a solid and strong foundation that allowed us to
keep in touch over a long distance without it falling apart.
We met at a festival in Zurich, Switzerland known as Zuri-fest, which happens once every 3 years. To be really precise, I met her on July 1, 2016. I had been in Switzerland for a month and she had just come to the country to start her internship. We had a group for interns in Switzerland and there was a rendezvous point decided for all interns to assemble around 5:00pm. I arrived a little bit earlier than others (To be fair, everyone else I knew was late, when I say earlier, I mean 5:00 pm sharp) with a couple of friends with whom I had been hanging out and drinking beer since around 3:00pm. Kaian was standing there with a couple of other interns. I initiated contact with all of them, but was somehow drawn to her the most. Also, the naïve 20 year old me back then was a wee bit too drunk so that might have contributed. We started talking and hanging out roaming around, observing the festivities. Drunk me talked a lot (as per what she says). Drunk me also had an embarrassing conversation with her over why it is easier for guys to pee in public washrooms while we were waiting in line for them. I don’t know why she even was talking to me after that. After all of that, we watched a fireworks by the Zurich lake along with some other interns for 30 minutes (most amazing fireworks I have seen till date) with drunk me singing the songs in a really horrible voice (I have a video for proof). Added each other on Facebook at the end of the night before she left for home as she was too tired.
5. If you’re in a relationship, were there any fears or hesitations to making it official?
HAHA I think that we officially became best friends a little over 4 years back. We connected over a specific podcast and were both going through similar mental health challenges. We have overcome so much together that that has helped it become deeper and more meaningful.
Not in a relationship in the romantic sense, but I was hesitant at first to think of Kylie as my true “friend” when I was younger. I was still in that mindset of “if you’ve never met them irl they aren’t a real friend” and so I was cautious. I think..... it was a little after I graduated HS, when I first set out on my own as an adult. I’d been going through some really awful shit at home, and hadn’t been online in a long time. When I finally started picking myself up again, and came back to social media, I went looking for her out of curiosity thinking “surely she’s forgotten about me, or she’s probably annoyed that I just disappeared without a word”. I was shocked to find that she was happy to see I was okay, that she’d missed talking to me. It touched my heart that she felt that way about me, and I decided from then on that I wasn’t going to let my relationship
with her fall to the wayside again.
There isn’t a romantic relationship, but as time went on and our friendship started to grow I began to get hesitant about telling anyone about her in my real life, especially considering the where and how of the beginning of our friendship. Most of the people in my life here in California either don’t or didn’t have a great view of internet-started connections with people or didn’t think anime was cool or a reasonable hobby. I was afraid my real life friends would make fun of me or bully me, not only for liking anime, but for writing about the shows I liked and for roleplaying about them with someone else. I was worried that I would lose their respect and friendship. Even more than that, though, I was worried about telling my family, primarily my mom. I didn’t want her to think that the situation my brother went through would happen to me as well, and I was afraid that she would immediately have a bad perspective of what exac